By Davidson Iriekpen
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Friday re-arraigned Maj. Gen. Emmanuel Atewe, and three others before a Federal High Court Lagos, over N8.5 billion fraud.
Atewe is charged with Patrick Akpobolokemi, a former Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), and two other staffs, Kime Engonzu and Josephine Otuaga. The accused are standing trial on an amended 22 count charge.
Their re-arraignment was sequel to the transfer of the former trial judge, Justice Saliu Saidu from Lagos to the Port Harcourt division of the Federal High court. The accused were therefore re-arraigned de novo before a new judge, Justice A.O Faji, and their pleas taken afresh.
After their re-arraignment, defence counsels prayed the court to allow the accused to continue on the earlier bail granted by the previous judge.
Based on the applications, the judge allowed them to continue on the earlier bail granted.
On the agreement of counsels, the court fixed Feb. 13 and Feb. 17 for commencement of trial.
At the last adjourned date, the EFCC had examined a prosecution witness, Mr. Adamu Yusuf, who told the court how the accused converted about N4.9 billion into dollars.
Yusuf had told the court that the accused used different companies and accounts to launder billions of money from the account of the Joint Task Force operation.
The witness further testified that during investigation, letters of request were sent to GT bank, Heritage Bank, Diamond Bank, Stanbic IBTC bank, as well as First City Monument Bank (FCMB) demanding for account statements of beneficiaries of that account.
In the charge, the anti-graft agency alleged that the accused conspired to defraud NIMASA of N8.5 billion using six companies.
The companies are: Jagan Ltd; Jagan Trading Company Ltd; Jagan Global Services Ltd; Al-Nald Ltd; Paper Warehouse Ltd; Eastpoint Integrated Services Ltd and De-Newlink Integrated Services Ltd.
The EFCC claimed that the accused committed the alleged fraud between Sept. 5, 2014 and May 20, 2015.
The offence is said to have contravened the provisions of Section 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012 as well as Section 390 of the Criminal Code Act Cap C. 38, Laws of the Federation, 2004.